Without doubt, I’m saving the toughest task until last, aren’t I?!

As assignments go, nothing has been more challenging than writing a blog about the many positives that 2020 has had to offer.

This ’10 reasons why 2020 has been a good year’ piece is an unlikely ode to 12 months that most of us will want to forget, but it’s a period of my life that I’m convinced will shape me for the better. (It’s possibly an example of my creative writing at its most elaborate too, but let’s not go there!) There’s more than a grain of truth in what I’m trying to articulate and it has meant a lot to get it all down in words. Call it a short cathartic journey to make out the wood from the trees, as a new landscape presents itself at the stroke of midnight.

Me and my boy up on the Brown Clee. Both my son and the scenery have been like medicine for my soul

1. I spoke to a counsellor for the first time in 2020, who I once mistook for a guardian angel. She told me that every situation in life is temporary. When life is not so good (which it hasn’t been during 2020, let’s be honest), then remember that it will not last forever and that better days are on the way. I make her right. I also believe I’m a better version of myself having seen her than I was before I opened up.

2. Speaking to her – and friends and family – undoubtedly gave me a sense of serenity, even when I was occasionally struggling inside. This coincided with new business opportunities and a period of growth in my first year as a PR consultant ‘on my own!’ I don’t put this down to a coincidence. Maybe it sounds like such an overused cliché or maybe it is just because it is true, but talking helps! I have talked more than ever in 2020.

3. Here’s an example of looking for the positive: In 2020, I was diagnosed with soya, wheat, milk and gluten intolerances, out of nowhere. It felt like the embodiment of a bad year, as I couldn’t even comfort-gorge a pack of milk chocolate HobNobs to get through it! But in regulating my diet, I have felt so much healthier, less slovenly and can now fit into a 34 waist trouser from Next for the first time since…well…ever!

4. I am no Mo Farah, which is patently obvious to the naked eye alone, but the fitness app on my phone tells me I’ve run 222km since the virus began. Before this, I’d used a Fitbit to log my jogs and I’d clocked up a few miles on there too, before the device packed up. Another positive to note: Not getting angry when said-Fitbit broke. I found another solution 🙂

5. I walked up the Brown Clee for the first time, which presented me with some of the most breath-taking views I have ever had the joy of embracing in my life. In doing so, I found a new-found appreciation of the work of A.E Housman, who I never really got until then, despite being a Shropshire Lad myself.

‘From far, from eve and morning, And yon twelve-winded sky, The stuff of life to knit me, Blew hither: Here am I!’

6. I discovered Nick Drake. Music has a cleansing, restorative effect on us all, none more so than on me. In meandering through Bob Dylan during a dark time, I found Nick Drake who thrust me into a good time. Have a listen to Pink Moon and tell me it’s not the most beautiful two minutes you’ve heard all year? I’m moving on to Neil Halstead soon, as a close friend told me he’s brilliant too. (you see, I’m looking ahead!)

I discovered new music. Well, old music, but I found it in 2020, and my love of Nick Drake knows no bounds

7. I wrote my first book! Ok, I am 99% certain it won’t get published, as it’s been rejected more times than I can keep track of. Oh, and it’s not strictly a book precisely because it hasn’t been published. But it’s 60,000 words on paper and I’m proud of it. My Dad read it, along with my best friend Alan. Both of them told me they love me. This means more than a paperback in Waterstones, however many times I’ve dreamt of it. I’ve chronicled something and it’s stored away safely and will stand the test of time. That my Dad read it while he’s still fit and healthy makes me prouder than anything in the world.

8. Well, prouder than almost anything in the world. 2020 has coincided with my son’s shift from boy to young man and I love him more than words. He is a happy boy, and a talented boy too. I believe I am a good father to him and we’ve forged a bond that no virus can ever come between.

9. I returned to a voluntary pastime, involving my son’s football team and a dozen of his team-mates or more. I feel valued, appreciated and moreover, I am seeing more little lads migrate towards the BBC (Better British Citizens!). They’re a credit to their parents – one of which bought me a signed Marco van Basten autobiography for Christmas! I was touched.

The Brown Clee, nearish Bridgnorth, made me appreciate the great outdoors – and A. E. Housman!

10. And finally, I am the proud owner of my own website, thanks to an introduction to another force of good. The fact you’re on it now, reading this, makes me very content.

So there you are. Ten reasons why 2020 has been a good year. If nothing else, it’s one we’ll all remember, isn’t it? If you’ve taken one single syllable of meaning from it, then it was worth me sitting down to write.

To paraphrase something that my dear counsellor once told me: “The greatest weapon against the bad times is hope that good will always prevail. Feeling that things will work out in times of great stress is difficult. But take heart in your friends and family and know that you’re not in this alone – then reinforce your hope with action.”

Happy New Year everyone x